March for the Beloved: A representative song of the democratization movement in South Korea

RIAWM International Department

There were a man and a woman. Alive during the dictatorial regime of the 1970s, both secretly dreamt of another world. The two met at an evening school, where they educated workers as voluntary teachers in Gwangju, a southwestern South Korean city. While working hard to educate workers, the woman died in an accident. It was 1978. The woman, Kisoon Park, was 21.

After dictator Park Chung Hee was assassinated in 1979, and another dictator, Chun Do Hwan grabbed power through a coup d’├ętat. Martial law was imposed nationwide. Students in Gwangju protested the repression of their democratic rights. The military suppressed them violently. In reaction average citizens rose up. They were met with horrible violence, beaten and shot to death. Civilians bore arms and occupied the city hall. The man joined them and was shot dead there. He had been the spokesman and one of the leaders of the civil troops. It was 1980. The man, Sangwon Yun, was 30.

In 1982, there a wedding was held at a graveyard. The man and the woman were spiritually bound together as bride and groom. A song entitled, "March for the Beloved", was written and dedicated to them. After, it spread secretly among students, workers, and ordinary citizen.

March for the Beloved

Our love, our honor, our name, not leaving anything behind

Our solemn vow to march together throughout our lives

Though the comrade is gone, the flag still flutters

Let us not waver until a new day is here

Time passes by but the mountains and streams remember

The ardent cry of the awaken ones

Survivors, follow as I march ahead

Survivors, follow as I march ahead

With the march of the democratization movement in South Korea, this song has come to be sung at the opening of every rally. Once in 2010, when the Lee Myung bak administration refused to play "March of the Beloved" in the annual ceremony commemorating the Gwangju Democratization Movement, twitter users voluntarily organized a campaign to sing along it. The song has come to represent social movements in South Korea. "March of the Beloved" also has impressed many activists around the world. The song has been adapted and sung in many countries including Hong Kong, Thai, Myanmar, and China.

*March for the Beloved

* Twitter users singing along the song (sound only)

* Migrant workers’ band playing the adapted song in China

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